The State’s first statutory carbon budgets are expected to be published on Monday following a planned meeting of the independent Climate Change Advisory Council.
The two carbon budgets will cover the period between 2021 and 2025 and then 2026 to 2030. The council is expected to sign off on the overall ceiling on climate emissions and this will go to Government before moving on to the Oireachtas.
The Oireachtas will have a period of four months to approve the budgets. The Government is planning to go ahead with the publication of a landmark climate action plan on November 3rd, which will set out emissions for each sector and exactly what needs to be done in order to meet the country’s climate targets.
It comes as the Government considers a contingency plan in the event of energy shortages this winter.
Data centres and large energy users would be the first to go off the national electricity grid in the event of power shortages, while hospitals and private homes would be the last to face outages.
Government sources said its contingency plan would see an effective hierarchy put in place which would prioritise private homes and healthcare settings.
A source said “pretty much everything would have to go wrong” for a situation to materialise where homes were faced with power cuts. Under the hierarchy, large energy users would be the first to be asked to switch to their generators and go off the national grid. After that, “non-critical” users would be next to come off the grid, and this would include examples such as cement factories.
“At the very back of the queue, and it will never come to this, are hospitals and then private homes are close in beside them,” the source said.
Ministers on the Cabinet Committee on Climate Change were briefed last week on power cut threats and were told that power cuts in the family home could not be ruled out. There was a boost this weekend, however, after Eirgrid confirmed that the Huntstown power station in Dublin is back in operation and is feeding electricity into the national grid. This could add 7-8 per cent capacity to the grid. It is also expected that the Whitegate generator in Cork will be back in action next month.
On the looming climate budgets, Green Party Minister of State in the Department of Agriculture Pippa Hackett said she believed the targets would be achievable but admitted it was a concern that some of the targets could be backloaded towards the end of the decade.
“We are looking to introduce system change in agric